Microsoft wants you to try on add-on for SQL Server
Microsoft said recently that it is making available the second trial version of a notification application that gives companies using SQL Server databases a way to provide custom updates to subscribers or customers without having to create a permanent connection between those customers and a database.
The SQL 2000 Notification Services technology was first discussed earlier this year at Microsoft's TechEd and will be available in late summer as a free download to SQL Server.
The technology eliminates the need for IT administrators to create a hard- coded link between a supplier and a consumer or subscriber, said Peter Pawlak, senior analyst for server applications at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based consulting firm.
"The problem with that is, it can be hard to do, and the consumer has no control over the link," Pawlak said.
SQL Notification Services is a type of "publish and subscribe" technology which lets IT managers place data from an application into a storage area called a publication. Subscribers to SQL Notification Services can look at what's available and determine if they want to take that feed, Pawlak said.
"They don't need to be concerned about the application, just the temporary store of data. IT can also place conditions on that data [in the store]," Pawlak said.
Though the application sounds a little like the "push" technologies of the mid-1990s, which sent data in a one-way stream to subscribers, it differs in that customers can be choosy about what they receive.
Applications that stand to benefit the most are ones that are time sensitive, like flight data, or anything you want to get to a client or customer that they should know immediately, such as pricing or inventory information.
Although he has not tested the software, John Logan, IT manager at AngioDynamics, a Queensbury, N.Y., company that makes products for radiologists, said he believes it could be useful as part of a mobile application he is developing that provides data to sales reps.
"This could help minimize the amount of information that has to go out to a PDA," Logan said.
SQL Notification Services generates alerts, but it does not deliver them. It integrates with Microsoft .NET Alerts, the notification system part of what was formerly known as "Hailstorm." Customers can decide how they want the data delivered to them -- whether it is an e-mail address or a mobile device, for example.
Mark Shainman, a senior research analyst at Meta Group, a Stamford, Conn., consulting firm, said "the spin is Microsoft is just pre-packaging a service so [customers] don't have to build the components."
The service has some value to businesses that need notification services, but how important these features will be is too soon to tell. The fact that it's a free add-on to SQL Server is just added value for Microsoft, Shainman said.
This story originally appeared on SearchWin2000, a TechTarget Windows-specific portal for IT professionals.
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